FOREIGN EXCHANGE INFORMATION

In this section you can find out about the cheapest and simplest way to transfer large amounts of currency all over the world. For smaller transfer amounts (of less than $3,000) see the Money Transfer section.

        

What is Currency Exchange?

Currency Exchange is the exchange of any two world currencies at any one time. In order to make the exchange or conversion, the foreign exchange market must first be accessed. The foreign exchange (also called forex) market is used all over the world by banks, financial institutions, foreign exchange brokerage firms, travel money bureaus, plus private and corporate investors for direct trade.

The forex market has no one central exchange and is therefore as yet unregulated. However, those firms that access it (such as a forex brokerage) must comply with their state, country or federal regulations as a financial service. Buying and selling (or trading) of currencies takes place all around the world, mostly via fast online platforms using the latest software. A trade takes place between any two entities at one time and happens between two currencies known as a currency pair (for instance the US dollar with the Euro the USD/EUR pair).

What is a Foreign Exchange Service?

Any time you require a currency conversion you will need to access a foreign exchange service. This could be your local bank, an exchange bureau or a foreign exchange brokerage firm. On Which Way To Pay USA, we list foreign exchange brokerage firms that can transfer large amounts of currency to almost anywhere in the world at a highly competitive exchange rate and with top level security. Most of these firms also offer services for private and corporate clients to carry out direct currency trading.

As brokers, a foreign exchange firm is constantly buying and selling currencies on the forex market. They are expert traders and can therefore get the best rates available and pass the majority of these on to their clients. They do take a tiny margin from each transfer and because they make such high volumes of trades they can charge their clients almost nothing.

Can Regular Banks Make Foreign Transfers?

Yes they can. You can make a foreign exchange transfer by visiting your bank and they will be able to act as your middleman. Yet over the past few years, more consumers have become aware that the exchange rate offered at regular banks is less attractive than those found at specialist foreign exchange firms. Additionally, banks often charge extras like commission fees and other charges.

What is the Benefit of a Foreign Exchange Service?

Foreign exchange brokerages can offer a much better priced and faster service than banks. This is due to a number of reasons, including:

  • Brokers have lower overheads
  • Brokers deal principally in currency trading
  • Brokers charge lower margins
  • Brokers offer online international transfers
  • Brokers give a one-on-one service

Banks can access the best rates on the forex market but take a larger margin from the rate before passing the rest on to the customer. Additionally, banks are usually large corporations that offer a wide range of financial services while brokers just offer currency services giving you a more focused and personal touch. In fact, brokers do not subject their customers to large anonymous call centers each account holder receives direct contact to an expert trader.

Can Anyone Open an Account?

The service offered by foreign exchange brokers sounds so exclusive you might think it is only offered to certain people. However anyone can apply for an account you will only need to provide the following:

  • Proof of ID
  • Proof of employment
  • A valid checking account (from which to make transfers)

The terms of each brokerage vary so make sure you check these before you apply. Some state rules may also vary.

How Do I Make a Transfer?

Once you have set up your online account which is a fast and painless process you can start to make transfers. Call or email your broker to state your intention, and your broker will state what the minimum transfer amount is. Each time you wish to make a transfer he or she will quote you the latest exchange rate between those two currencies.

They will then require your checking account details and those of the recipient account and that is all. The transfer usually takes between 1 and 5 working days to arrive. Your trader will be able to answer any questions and will confirm every step of the transfer process. They will never carry out a transfer unless you have given the order to do so.

How Much does it Cost?

The price of a transfer usually depends on the amount you want to transfer. Most brokerages have a minimum transfer benchmark, above which they do not charge a fee. Below that amount and they could charge up to $10 per transfer. Given the excellent rate you will be given this could still work out cheaper than using a traditional bank.

Commission is usually free from foreign exchange brokers but check this in advance. Most brokers do not charge extras like administration fees but once again, make sure you find out prior to setting up your account.

Are there any Extra Features?

Many brokerages can set up regular payments for you, or fix exchange rates up to 6 months in advance. So if you know that you will need to make a foreign transfer up to 6 months from now, you can hedge risk by fixing today's rate. When you come to make your transfer you will receive exactly that same rate.

Corporate Foreign Exchange

Firms that require fast and efficient foreign exchange capabilities can access a specialist corporate service at most foreign exchange brokerages. A good brokerage will separate its private-client and corporate services and account area in order to provide the best for each. Firms generally require a different service to private investors, and your dedicated account team will be able to handle your currency requirements all day every day.

Many corporations have a currency investment arm, for which a specialist foreign exchange brokerage is ideal. They tailor the service to suit you and your firm choose an execution-only platform or opt for a full dedicated advisory service depending on the circumstances and needs.

Hedging Strategies

Your firm may require fast and frequent foreign currency transfers, for example to pay for staff based overseas, to settle with international merchants, to open import/export or to trade currencies for direct investment (e.g. via proprietary trading). A corporate foreign exchange service can deal with all of these needs and more. They will generally speak with your team directly to discuss hedging strategies (including forward contracts and options), your risk appetite and whatever questions you need answered.

Personal Service

A major bonus to a foreign exchange specialist is that large call centres are not a factor you or your colleagues will ever have to deal with. Each account receives its own dedicated trader who knows the currency market inside out.

        


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